When Footballers Box


They aren’t allowed to fight on the field anymore, so it should not come as a surprise that some of the biggest names in football are keen to get in the ring every off-season or post football career.

Two of the most controversial players of the modern era in Sonny Bill Williams and Barry Hall will square off in Sydney on Wednesday night but it will not be the first time an ex footballer has entered the boxing ring.

Paul Gallen vs Barry Hall

Although Gallen has had fights before and after his draw with Barry Hall, this was the first real challenge if we are being honest.

And it was against a guy that played another brand of football.

It was also the only other time we have seen Hall inside the ring after he retired from football.

Mark Geyer vs Damian Monkhurst

In 1992 controversial Collingwood ruckman Damian ‘Monky’ Monkhurst took on Front Rower Mark Geyer to raise money for youth suicide.

The fight did not last long.


Mark Jackson vs Mal Meninga

Wacko Jacko was well out of his depth taking on a much younger and fitter Mal Meninga when they entered the ring in 2002 in a charity event.

Jacko had enough of getting repeatedly punched in the nose and seemingly fell to the ground and gave up.

To be fair it was going to get a lot worse for him before it got any better.

Warwick Capper vs Wendell Sailor

In 2009 during filming for The Contender Australia Wendell Sailor got to live out the dream of many AFL fans – he was given the opportunity to repeatedly punch Warwick Capper in the face.

Capper may talk a big game, but he was absolutely dominated by Sailor and the colourful former AFL star ended up giving up rather than face another round of pummelling from Big Dell.


Quade Cooper vs Jack McInnes

Quade Cooper is not the best boxer. Anyone with two working eyes can work that out but the quality of opponent that he has entered the ring against has been laughable at best.

He took on 22 year old, third year apprentice plasterer Jack McInnes in Adelaide in 2017 and without being too disrespectful to the young man, there was a sizeable difference in each fighters skin fold.

McInnes, a veteran of 56 fights in boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA, retired after he lost the fight.

Paul Gallen vs Anthony Watts

It is fair to say that this fight did not live up to the hype.

After months of mouthing off at each other, Paul Gallen and Anthony Watts were finally given the chance to settle the differences in the ring, but the fight was stopped just over a minute in when Watts dislocated his shoulder.

Sonny Bill Williams vs Francois Botha

Sonny Bill Williams did his reputation some serious damage with this fight in Brisbane in 2013.

He may have got the win over 45-year-old Francois Botha, but it is fair to say that the South African veteran dominated Sonny Bill in the final couple of rounds and surely would have been able to finish the fight if it had not been mysteriously reduced by two rounds.

Williams has only had one fight since and was quickly stripped of the WBA International Heavyweight Title.



Christian Cullen vs Issac Luke

Former All Blacks full-back Christian Cullen and New Zealand Warriors star Issac Luke are not the biggest blokes, but they put on a hell of a fight in New Zealand in 2011.

Neither fighter was afraid to let their fists fly and it is unlikely that you will find a more entertaining all-round fight on this list.

Rene Ranger vs Greg Bird

This is a great moment in Queensland history.

Greg Bird has been one of the most unpopular players with Queensland Maroons fans for the better part of a decade and they could not have been more euphoric in Queensland when Bird was knocked down by New Zealand Rugby star Rene Ranger.

To his credit Bird did fight on and was knocked down by Ranger once again in the final round, but Bird was still able to hang on for the victory.

Willie Mason vs Troy Flavell

It should come as no real surprise that Willie Mason has got involved in the boxing scene, but it is fair to say that his debut against former All-Black Troy Flavell was fairly underwhelming.

Mason came into the fight with his usual swagger, but never looked only convincing and the duo fought out a fairly dull draw.

Quade Cooper vs Barry Dunnett

Remember that Simpsons episode when Homer takes on the likes of Boxcar Fred in the boxing ring?

Barry Dunnett is the real-life version of Boxcar Fred.

Dunnett’s credentials were talked up in the lead-up to this fight, but it quickly became apparent that this bloke did not belong in the same ring as an athlete like Quade Cooper.

Carlos Spencer vs Jarrod McCracken

These two New Zealanders beat the tar out of each other for three rounds and things got tense on a number of occasions.

‘King’ Carlos Spencer clearly had the edge over former Canterbury Bulldog and Parramatta Eel Jarrod McCracken, but at times this looked more like a wrestling match than a boxing bout.

Anthony Mundine vs Gareth Wood

Say what you will about Anthony Mundine, but he has made a fair shake out of his boxing career since his controversial exit from rugby league halfway through the 2000 season.

Unfortunately for Mundine, things did not go to plan when he actually got into the ring with a former NRL rival.

Wood earnt a shot at Mundine by winning The Contender Australia and he was able to knockout Mundine in the fifth round to record a stunning upset.